Mexico City is worth visiting and Bellas Artes is one reason why

Is Mexico City Worth Visiting in 2024? Top Reasons to Visit & Things to Do

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Is Mexico City worth visiting?

Mexico City is a sprawling metropolis that has become a popular tourist destination in the past decade. From its delicious food and welcoming culture to its vibrant arts scene and green spaces, the city has something for everyone.So, is Mexico City worth visiting?

That’s a resounding yes from me! On my two-week CDMX trip, I explored many of the city’s top highlights and still haven’t come close to visiting all the attractions that the city has to offer. There is so much to see and do for tourists.

Don’t just take my word for it. According to the stats, in the first half of 2023 alone the city welcomed two-thirds its total visitor count in the past year, and there seem to be no signs of this trend slowing down anytime soon.

Curious to know why people keep coming back to Mexico City? Read on.

Planning a trip? Use my favorite resources:

Top Reasons Why Mexico City is Worth Visiting

There are many reasons why Mexico City should be on your list of must-visit destinations. Here are a few of the main ones:

Culinary Delights and UNESCO-Recognized Cuisine

Mexico City stands as a culinary paradise, celebrated for its diverse and flavorful cuisine.

It even has UNESCO heritage status because of its diversity, usage of local ingredients and preservation of traditional culinary practices passed down from generation to generation.

Whether you’re indulging in delectable churros from street vendors near the Lucha Libre stadium or savoring the finest tequila and mezcal, your taste buds are in for a good time.

Mexico City is also home to celebrated restaurants like Nicos, El Pescadito, and El Hidalguense, where you can relish iconic dishes such as Chile Nogada, shrimp tacos, and traditional barbacoa that is roasted to melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

If you’re more adventurous, you can try chapulines (grasshoppers) from Chapulín.

Personally, I have to say that the best dish of all is the Taco Chino Poblano (duck tacos) which also features the best mole I’ve tried so far. One great way to try authentic Mexican food on your visit is by taking a local-led food tour.

👉 Check out this Private Food Tour of Mexico City

Warm and Welcoming People

Another good reason to visit Mexico City is its people. For solo travelers, it’s a fantastic destination where you’ll feel right at home after meeting some locals.

At least two friends I met during my own trip have invited me back to their homes the next time I visit the city. How nice is that?

Furthermore, Mexico frequently secures a place on InterNations’ annual list of the most welcoming countries globally, underscoring the city’s reputation for its hospitality. Their warmth is undoubtedly a compelling reason to visit Mexico City.

Arts and Culture Extravaganza

Mexico City’s arts and culture scene is a story of history and creativity.

The city boasts more than a hundred museums, each offering a unique window into Mexican culture – from childhood toys to world-famous mural paintings by legendary artists like Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

Beyond museums, the city’s artistic achievements shine through in its architecture, epitomized by the stunning Palacio de Bellas Artes (Bella Artes).

To top it off, art and craft enthusiasts can explore the vibrant marketplace of San Angel, a hub for high-quality art, textiles and crafts.

Mexico City’s commitment to preserving and showcasing its rich artistic heritage offers an immersive cultural experience.

Urban Oasis Amidst the Bustle

Mexico City’s charm lies in its ability to balance the fast-paced urban environment with serene green spaces. Despite being one of the world’s most densely populated cities, Mexico City takes pride in its abundant parks and green areas.

I was honestly surprised at how easy it was to get around Mexico City, to the point that I can compare it with moving through New York City. It’s that good.

Visitors can also escape the city’s vibrant energy and find solace in urban oases like Parque Mexico, Chapultepec Park and Parque España. These parks offer a retreat for relaxation and outdoor activities, allowing you to enjoy the best of both worlds.

With efficient transportation options and a city layout that’s relatively easy to navigate, exploring the many parks that adorn Mexico City’s 300-plus neighborhoods is a delightful adventure that combines nature with urban excitement.

15 Best Things to do in Mexico City

There’s no shortage of fun and interesting ways to spend your time in Mexico City. Consider adding these to your Mexico City itinerary:

1. Visit Chapultepec Castle & Park

Chapultepe Castle tower

A visit to the Chapultepec Castle and its surrounding park should be on any traveler’s list of places to visit. This massive park, often known as the “lungs of Mexico City,” plays a role in reducing the city’s air pollution.

It is one of the largest urban parks in the world and houses a variety of attractions, including a zoo, museums and the iconic Chapultepec Castle.

Among all the museums I’ve visited, this is my personal favorite because it gives you a crash course in Mexico’s long history. Plus, there are English translations (most museum, unfortunately, do not have these).

Notably, the castle stands as the only royal castle in North America. This castle has served as the residence of Mexican Emperor Maximilian I from Austria and Empress Carlota, before their capture and execution by the Mexican government in 1867.

Additionally, it has been used as a residence for Mexico’s presidents.

👉 Book a Private Tour of Chapultepec Castle

2. Try Pulque

Savor Pulque, a unique and creamy fermented agave drink, at pulquerias across Mexico City for a taste of traditional Mexican culture. This drink dates back to pre-Columbian times, when it was considered a sacred elixir.

I know mezcal and tequila are more popular options but should also give pulque a try, especially if you’re a big fan of kombucha.

If you’re really curious, you could even take a guided tour to a pulque ranch to learn all about how it’s made and sample some

3. See the Frida Kahlo Museum

There is more to Frida Kahlo than what most people know, and her former home explores that. This intimate space houses her personal belongings, photo and artwork.

In this museum, you’ll go through a series of rooms that recount Frida’s childhood until her death, and what influenced her to be ahead of her times. There’s usually a long line up around the block of this blue house, so it will be easy to spot.

4. End your Meal with Churros

No visit to Mexico City is complete without savoring churros from the iconic El Morro.

This delightful treat has been a staple for more than 80 years, and it helped catapult traditional Mexican sweets to worldwide fame. The churros here are fried to perfection, achieving a golden, crispy exterior with a warm, fluffy inside.

The sweetness is perfectly balanced with a touch of cinnamon and sugar. If you can’t make it to El Morro, the next best option is to get some from a street vendor. I promise that those can be just as good.

5. Kayak the Xochimilco Canals

xochimilco canals at sunrise

Here, you’ll have the opportunity to kayak on centuries-old waterways, steeped in history and culture.

This experience not only offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Mexico City, but also provides a glimpse into the bygone era when the Aztecs traversed these very waters.

As you paddle through these picturesque waterways, you’ll see gardens and encounter horses grazing on grass before the sun rises.

I took this morning tour and I would highly recommend doing this over the afternoon tour, which is usually more of a party boat.

6. Take in the sights of Mexico City’s parks

Mexico City boasts numerous parks, with Chapultepec Park being the second largest in North America. This urban oasis offers a theme park, local markets and museums.

Parque Mexico and Parque Espana are among the favorites as well, providing lush green spaces perfect for leisurely strolls and people-watching.

7. Admire the Architecture

Mexico City post-office

Mexico City’s architectural wonders include Art Deco neighborhoods like Condesa and Roma, tree-lined walks along Avenida Ámsterdam, iconic landmarks like Palacio de Correos de Mexico and Palacio de Bellas Artes, and breathtaking city views from Mirador Torre Latino.

One great way to explore theses sites is on a guided walking tour.

👉 Join a Walking Tour of Historic Mexico City Center

8. Tour the Anthropology Museum

a piece at the anthropology museum

Explore the Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Chapultepec Park, one of the world’s greatest archaeological museums. It houses a massive Aztec calendar and exhibits covering Aztec, Mayan and Teotihuacan civilizations.

9. Watch Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre

Experience the electrifying world of Mexican wrestling, more of a show than a fight, characterized by a loud and lively atmosphere. Lucha Libre is an authentic Mexican cultural spectacle, best enjoyed with a guided tour to ensure a safe and immersive experience.

👉 Book the Lucha Libre and Mezcal Tasting Experience

10. Go Taco Tasting

Delight in the birthplace of the Al Pastor Taco, a savory treat cooked on a spit, at renowned places like El Huequito. Some other notable taquerías are Los Cocuyos and Taqueria Orinoco

👉 Sign up for a Taco and Mezcal Crawl in Mexico City

11. Take a Day Trip to Hike Nevado de Toluca Volcano

For those who want to take a break from food tours, a day trip to the Nevado de Toluca Volcano is something to consider. It is the fourth-highest peak in Mexico, standing proudly at 4,680 meters (15,354 feet).

The trip begins early with a 2-3 hour drive, where you’ll encounter diverse landscapes and stunning vistas.

The Circuito Lagos del Nevado de Toluca trail, covering 9.8 kilometers (6.1 miles), is considered moderate, with the primary challenge being the elevation gain.

As you ascend, you’ll encounter remarkable crater lagoons inside the extinct volcano, offering breathtaking views and Mexico’s natural beauty.

👉 Book the Day Trip from Mexico City to Nevado de Toluca

12. Indulge in the Coffee and Chocolate Culture

chocolateria treats in mexico City

Dive into Mexico City’s thriving coffee and chocolate scene. Quentin Cafe, a local gem, offers high-quality Mexican coffee for your caffeine fix.

The cafe sources beans from diverse regions of Mexico, creating a sensory experience that reflects the country’s unique coffee heritage.

From the robust aromas to the artistry in each cup, you’ll be savoring more than just a beverage; you’ll be immersing yourself in a centuries-old tradition.

If you’re yearning for a creamier indulgence, make your way to Chocolatería La Rifa, where you can get a cup of hot chocolate or mocha.

Between the two, I personally preferred the mocha because it’s creamier and richer. It’s a fusion of rich coffee and velvety chocolate that is guaranteed to have you returning for a second visit.

👉 Check out this 3-Hour Coffee Tour

13. Spend a Saturday in San Angel Neighborhood

Going beyond the well-known neighborhoods, you’ll discover the artistic neighborhood of San Angel. This neighborhood comes alive on Saturdays with the Bazaar del Sábado, an open-air market renowned for its high-quality handmade art, textiles and crafts.

It’s a full display of authentic Mexican artistry, where you can find unique, one-of-a-kind pieces.

San Angel is also home to numerous galleries and museums, including one dedicated to Diego Rivera, showcasing the works of this influential Mexican artist and providing a deeper understanding of his legacy.

14. Take a Walking Tour in Downtown Mexico City

Historic City Center in Mexico City

Begin your exploration of Mexico City by learning about its rich history downtown, and a walking tour is the best way to do so.

You’ll see ancient Aztec ruins, including the Templo Mayor, a significant site of spiritual and ceremonial importance. This temple, built in the heart of Tenochtitlán, reveals the cultural significance of the Aztec civilization.

Excavated only around 70 years ago, the site now houses a museum and well-preserved ruins.

Other sights on the tour include the cathedral, Plaza Tolsá, and Donceles Street. Your guide will illuminate the historical and cultural significance of these landmarks, offering a glimpse into the fascinating tapestry of Mexico’s past.

👉 Book a Downtown Walking Tour

Play Chef in a Cooking Class

Remember all that wonderful cuisine Mexico is so beloved for? Why not learn how to bring it to life in your own kitchen? Traditional cooking classes are a great way to get to know any city better, and Mexico City is no exception.

Learn local technique as you meet new friends and learn to prepare dishes you’ll be able to recreate at home for loved ones.

👉 Sign up for a Mexico City Cooking Class

Where to Stay in Mexico City

Mexico City has accommodation options for every budget. Here are my recommendations:

🏨 Luxury: Casa Polanco

This is a boutique hotel in the Polanco neighborhood. Each room here is like a gallery in and of itself, decorated with world-class art. The hotel also has an exclusive partnership with local perfumery, Xinú.

With a rooftop spa cabin and complimentary minibar filled with chef-prepared snacks, Casa Polanco offers a sophisticated escape for those seeking the best in Mexico City.

👉 Check Prices & Availability at Casa Polanco

🏨 Mid-Range: Casa Pepe Hostel Boutique

Casa Pepe Hostel Boutique in Mexico City is a lively and fun 4-star hostel located near Mexico City’s central square. It offers shared facilities (lounge and kitchen), a restaurant and 24-hour front desk service.

Its proximity to key landmarks like the Metropolitan Cathedral and The Museum of Fine Arts makes it a convenient choice for travelers, with Benito Juarez International Airport located about five miles away.

👉 Check Prices & Availability at Casa Pepe Hostel Boutique

🏨 Budget: Barrio Downtown Mexico City Hostel

Located in the heart of Mexico City, Barrio Downtown Mexico City Hostel offers a central and convenient stay with free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast.

The guest house is within walking distance of several prominent attractions, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Zocalo Square, and Palacio de Correos. T

his hostel also offers a business center, and recreational activities like table tennis or darts.

👉 Check Prices & Availability at Barrio Downtown Hostel

Are There Any Cons to Visiting Mexico City?

We’ve covered many of the reasons why Mexico City is wonderful, and gone over some of the best things to do. But, are there any downsides to consider? Here are some things to keep in mind:

Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion in Mexico City is a common challenge which is due to the city’s immense population. It’s a city of more than 20 million people so it’s no surprise that the densely populated metropolis experiences heavy traffic during peak hours.

This not only leads to delays but also contributes to air and noise pollution.

There are ways to avoid the road traffic though, whether by commuting at slower times of day, taking the well-developed metro system, or using alternative modes of travel such as walking or biking.

Air Quality

Mexico City faces ongoing air quality challenges and the air quality rating in this metropolis is often higher than the recommended international guidelines. The traffic and the city’s high elevation also aggravate the problem further.

To counter the declining air quality, the government has implemented measures like vehicle emission restrictions and cleaner public transportation options.

Earthquake Risk

You’ll notice that structures and buildings in the city are a bit crooked, and this is for a reason. The city has a history of devastating earthquakes, with the 1985 earthquake as a significant example.

Back in pre-Columbian times, Mesoamerican cultures built Mexico City on top of a lake. This puts it at a higher risk especially since Mexico is along the Pacific Ring of Fire, where seismic waves and the subduction of the Cocos Plate beneath the North American Plate are amplified.

While Mexico City experiences thousands of small earthquakes annually, it is also susceptible to more powerful ones. To address this risk, the city has implemented strict building codes, early warning systems and disaster preparedness measures.

Visitors should be aware of earthquake safety measures and preparedness when visiting.

Additional Tips for Visiting Mexico City

To make your trip as smooth as possible, take note of these tips during your CDMX visit:

  • Use the Metro System: Mexico City’s metro system is a convenient and affordable way to get around the city. It’s a well-connected network that can save you time and money on transportation.
  • Drink Filtered Water: To avoid any potential stomach issues, it’s advisable to drink bottled or filtered water. Many restaurants and accommodations offer purified water, so just make sure to ask and bring a reusable bottle.
  • Learn Basic Spanish: While you can get by with English in tourist areas, learning some basic Spanish phrases will go a long way. It will help when asking for directions and locals do appreciate tourists who try to learn their language.
  • Bring a Jacket: Mexico City’s weather can be quite unpredictable. Even if you’re visiting during a warm season, it’s a good idea to pack a light jacket or sweater as evenings can get cooler, especially at higher altitudes.
  • Avoid Commuting During Rush Hour: Mexico City is known for its heavy traffic during rush hours. To save time and frustration, plan your travel activities around peak traffic times or use the metro to avoid congested streets.

FAQ: Is Mexico City Worth Visiting?

As you plan your time in Mexico City, you might be wondering:

Is it worth seeing Mexico City?

Absolutely! Mexico City has progressed in the past decades and now it has become a destination for travelers who like museums, arts, culture and food. For a city its size, it’s certainly very accessible and there is plenty to see and do.

How many days is enough for Mexico City?

To at least enjoy most of the highlights, you’ll need a week. Mexico City has a lot to offer, so it wouldn’t be a surprise for someone to stay for a month and still have new things to see and do.

Is Mexico City expensive for tourists?

Compared to other Western European or North American destinations, Mexico City is budget-friendly. But this also depends on how you travel, what you like to do, where you eat and what accommodations you choose.

What is the best time to go to Mexico City?

The best time to visit is from December to April when the weather is dry, but if you want to be there at its warmest, go between March and April (73-75 F). Mexico sits at a higher altitude than most cities so it gets cool.

Final Thoughts: Is Mexico City Worth Visiting

In a nutshell, Mexico City is a must-visit destination. I only stayed for two weeks in this beautiful city myself, and I would have stayed longer if my itinerary had allowed it.

There’s plenty to see and experience for any kind of traveler, even for those who generally prefer to steer clear of big cities.

Beyond its incredible food, the city boasts a thriving arts and culture scene. It not only has more than a hundred museums, but also historic architectural wonders, and trendy neighborhoods.

There are also day trips for those who enjoy the great outdoors, like the Nevado de Toluca Volcano hike you can do near the city.

While destinations like Tulum and Puerto Vallarta might seem more popular for vacationers, Mexico City should not be overlooked.

What sets Mexico City apart is its remarkable ability to blend vibrant urban energy with serene green spaces, catering to a diverse range of travelers. So, if you’re looking for your next destination, consider Mexico City. It’s worth that plane ticket!

About the author: Czarina Catambing is the editor at Half Digital Nomad. She is a part-time nomad, traveling for part of the year while working full-time as a product manager. When she’s not working, she spends a lot of time outdoors running or rock climbing. Find out what she’s up to on Instagram at @halfdigitalnomad_